Temperatures have reached 95 degree F this week. The hot weather is making me miss spring.
My little brother loved the “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon. There was one cartoon where Calvin is holding his breath, and then comes up for air with an “EEEEeeep!”.
Eeep! I’m coming up for air!
It’s been a busy couple weeks. The tractor is fixed. The feed pickup is FINALLY fixed (after the wrong part was shipped from PA). Newt has brandings nearly every morning, Mom and Dad branded (we got up at 4:15 am to leave in time), I’m cooking and freezing meals for our branding while work has started getting busy, the heifers have started MGA pellets and will soon be AIed, we haven’t had any rain and it looks like some cows will need to be sold.
The first trigger point will be the Corriente cows with the Corriente calves. The cute ones.
I just hope they will be the last ones. If we have to sell all our cows, I wonder if we can afford to get back into the cattle business. Can we afford an empty ranch that long?
Beginning ranchers… ahhh, it sounds so romantic. Our chores are completed with a Mule (ATV type thing), a tractor (bale processor attached), and the ranch pickup (with caker and bale bed).
In the movies, the young rancher drives a brand new (and spotless) pickup. Or a restored 1950’s Chevy with shiny paint and the engine turns over every time.
Chores are done effortlessly in a jolly green tractor, equipped with loader and heated seats, by a tan and flawless pony-tailed woman in a white shirt. Seriously, a white shirt? THUNK!
That was me, whacking you upside the head with reality.
We are 1 for 3 on machines to do chores. Yep, down to the Mule (beep, beep). The spring broke, KER-chunk, as we caked pairs in the ranch pickup. The springs are important- they keep your bed from rubbing on the brand new tire. The old Dodge looks like an elephant was sitting in the passenger side, very lopsided.
Then ReeRee and Newt did chores yesterday. And she came home in different pants- the extra pants we keep in the diaper bag. Which during potty training only means one thing.
“ReeRee, what happened to your pants?”
“Oh Mommy!Thetractor,moke,everywhere.Mess-theseat,” all her words ran together.
“So Daddy, what happened?” I didn’t understand a word. Except for the “moke” or “smoke”.
“The tractor blew a hydraulic hose under the seat of the tractor.” He held up ReeRee’s oil stained pants as proof. “There was oil and smoke everywhere in the cab. I’m just glad we didn’t have to walk from the Far Center.”
I soaked, pretreated, and washed the pants and Joel’s sweatshirt. And they still reek and have hydraulic stains on them. Currently, they are airing out on the clothes line.
Any advice to get out oil stains?
Or how to feed four tons of hay with a Mule?
First thing in the morning, Newt drives through the “heavies” or cows that are still pregnant and “springing”. Certain female areas get larger and looser (for the XX chromosome humans who thought squeezing a watermelon through the size of an orange seems impossible, think giving birth to a 90 lb calf. Something needs to loosen up and give a little- thus springing.) If their bags are filling up with milk and the cows are “springing” a new baby calf should arrive any time.
Newt checks to make sure everyone is looking fine. A cow should have a calf in a couple hours of the initial signs. A stiff tail, milling around in the same spot, staying off by themselves, water bag hanging out or breaking. Then a foot should come out, then two feet. If the calf is positioned correctly the two hooves should point down. If the calf is backwards, the back feet are coming out and the hooves point towards the sky. If the cervix isn’t dilated, the calf can’t come through and the vet will need to do a c-section. If the feet are HUGE, you might have to help the pull the calf because he is too big. If the sack, or lining around the calf in the uterus, is stuck to his head, the calf will suffocate. If you are lucky, you catch these in time, sometimes you don’t.
Once the cow has calved, she is suppose to claim her own calf. Cows rely on smell to identify their calf (and later the sound of his bawl, but newborns have a noseful of phlegm and can’t squeak out a baaaaa yet). So if two cows calve next to each other, they can claim the same calf. No colostrum, or vital first milk, for the other calf and he will die.
Newt hates cows that don’t claim their calves. He has to feed the calf, lock them both up in a small pen, lock the cow’s head in a chute, and let the calf suck several times a day while dodging the kicking cow. Usually in 2-3 days, the calf’s poo smells like his mom’s milk and she takes him back.
To reduce confusion, the mother cow and her baby calf are “paired off” into a different pasture. It also reduces the chance that an older calf will infect a younger calf with germs (think daycare germs- eeck). The cow’s nutritional needs are at their peak, as she produces milk and tries to heal up. So the pairs will get hay and cake with added protein and energy. If it ever rains again, the green grass is also a good source of the extra nutrients she needs.
Newt rides a horse to pair off. The cows think the cowdogs are coyotes trying to eat their calves. A racket ensues- cows bellowing, head down chasing the dogs through the fence, other cows hear the panic call and start to panic. Soon the herd is just running around senseless.
With a horse, the cows usually don’t have a problem. (Some cows don’t like anything messing with their new baby, so they will run and hit your horse. We had a mare that would spin around and kick the charging cow in the head. If you didn’t fall off in the process, the cow usually stopped and you continued pairing.)
Newt gets frustrated with the pairs don’t stay together. Either the calf runs off aimlessly, or his mom will take off into the new pasture and leave her baby behind. Lope, turn the cow, lope, turn the calf back, look west, look east, try to decide whether to chase the cow or the calf since they are now running in opposite directions.
Finally, success when the calf happily trots by his momma’s side.
I spend a week in the Big City (2nd biggest in the state). Cars, lots of people, and more than a gas station to eat out at. And internet at the hotel was so slllooooooow. Thus no updates on the blog.
In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve been up to:
*learned to facilitate groups to appreciate and understand the four personality groups (hence the name REAL Colors)
*we all possess the four colors, but some of us “live” comfortably in a color
*luckily I could draw from my unique and diverse family for all groups
*GOLDs- structured, one right answer, detail oriented, needs control, aversion to change, likes lists
*GREENS- the thinkers, needs more time to answer, even the perfect answer could be improved, could work alone
*BLUES- feelings, want to keep everyone happy and in the group, romantic, good listener
*ORANGES- spontaneous, risk takers, action, fun, parties
I am now available to train groups to appreciate and work with the different colors. I could see potential for boards or groups that work together. And family and friends, if you want to know my opinion on your color, feel free to ask. Or complete the booklet for a more reliable diagnosis.
But even after four days in a city filled with restaurants and lush, green lawns, I was ready to come home. That’s the Country Mouse coming out in me.
Click. I sent it. After months of calculating lost wages, the grimy state of my house, higher cost of benefits, fewer hours at the babysitter, and my mental sanity, I sent it. My heart pounded and I closed my eyes when my mouse clicked “send”.
A letter to my boss requesting to temporarily go part-time.
Now I wait and see if I will go from a full-time employee, part-time mom and wife, and the job I can’t quit (diabetes, you are a drag) to a part-time everything. (Exception: full-time diabetes.)
I have been part-time for a month now. Besides the drastic cut in pay, I like it. My house is clean(er), I spend more time at home and on the ranch, and it just feels right. Too bad I didn’t win the lottery, so I could stay home and work when I want to. Because that’s what billionaires do, right? A post for another day: What would I do with a billion dollars to spend?
Here is a email from my mom. They received more ice and snow in the last blizzard. No snow days or vacations for a rancher!
Dear Everyone, to whom it may concern:
We have been running all day. The weather turned frightful, from the most beautiful, perfect day yesterday, it was certainly the calm before the storm. Thankfully we got 1″ of rain last night before everything froze. You have to take a hammer to open everything, from gates to tractors because it is all covered with ice.
Your dad discovered a heifer trying to have a backwards calf and she had given up. He thought the calf was dead, but luckily he put the chains on it’s feet carefully just in case. As it was the calf is fine. Your dad had me milk out the cow while she was laying there in the barn. She was just plain wore out. She had a disconcerted look in her eye when I started, but it gradually replaced to bliss. Your dad said the sucking motion releases endorphins and it makes them feel good. She fell asleep again and actually snored while I was milking her. (Geez- even cows snore!) Meanwhile the calf was trying to get up, and he was covered with slime and dirt from the barn floor. I got over a pint of colostrum and he guzzled it up greedily. I dried him off with a ton of towels because, of course, our power went off, so we didn’t have a Hot Box. (The ranch is the last on the powerline. I still fill up containers of water when it starts to snow. Some habits are hard to break.) I made him a nice bed of hay by his Mama and put them together, he by her head. Thankfully, she gave a soft moo, and started licking him while she was still laying there. She continued to softly moo, and I knew she was a good cow, because she was glad to see him and accepted him even after her ordeal. Now she is up and giving the barn cats dirty looks. That was a lucky one. Your dad didn’t have her sorted off with the other heavies, so it could have been bad.
The wind was blowing so hard, and it was sleeting that it stung my face like a nest of bees. ouch. And it was thundering and lightening while it was snowing and sleeting. It was weird.
I am very glad that we have a woodstove, and your dad hooked our generator up this afternoon, so here I am typing away on the computer.
The storm warning is supposed to be over by 7:00 am tomorrow morning, but it will still be cold.
One cow had her calf in a water hole from the rain last night, and she is stupid and it died.
There is a calf in the Hot Box now (Yay for generators!). It is just frightfully cold and that wind is bitter.
Oh, and guess who is also here…all of yours favorite dog…Queenie. (Queenie was my grandma’s dog. She is a friendly dog, but always pees on you when she sees you. And now she has rotten teeth, so her breath is REAL bad when she licks your face.) She was getting quite cold in the garage without her little heater pad and now she is locked in her pet carrier sitting by the back door along with Doc and Pepe’ (Mom and Dad’s cow/house dogs).
Mike had to spend 1.5 hours cutting fallen branches off the bull fence. I also have broken branches off my white birch tree, but the river birch just seems to bend and not break. The cedar trees are all weighed down and the spruce tree looks pretty with it’s branches drooping so. (Too bad the blizzard wouldn’t kill all those stupid volunteer cedar trees).
I guess I am tired now. (I’m tired just reading this email.)
A big blizzard blew in and stayed for two days. ReeRee and I holed up in the house, while Newt had to brave the blinding wind and pellets of icy snow. He moved the cows to the barn a few miles away. One calf froze in the pasture (he was a poor-doer to start with), but Newt did a good job of protecting the rest.
The world is starting to melt and we are grateful for the little moisture we received.
After being housebound for 2 days, I was starting to go a little crazy. It was too cold to go outside. So I cleaned. And cleaned things I hate to clean. I dusted. I vacuumed under the sofa. I washed and hung the shower curtain. I rehung the shower curtain after I miss a loop (errrr). I washed the grates on the stove. Someone stop me!
I’m ready for warm rays of sunshine. So ReeRee and I can go outside and help with chores again.
April snow blizzards make me ready for May flowers!
She thought all horned cows were Longhorns and was unaware of the Corriente breed. (As was I before I dated Newt.)
Corrientes are smaller cows that originated in Mexico. Their horns are smaller, too. You can actually buy papered (registered) Corrientes. Now these cattle are used as roping or bulldogging cattle in rodeos.
So Becky, here are some pictures of the Corrientes. If it doesn’t rain, you can buy the entire herd. Happy sculpting!
Story #1: ReeRee got her first shiner. A nice bruise under her eye. She was jumping on the recliner and twirled in the air, off the chair, and onto the corner of the table with her face.
I ran and grabbed her off the carpet, where she laid sobbing. I put her curly head next to mine and rocked and shushed and rocked. I didn’t want to let her go, or to see how much was bleeding.
Surprising there was no blood. Just a nasty scratch under her eye.
“What hurts? What hurts?” I asked through the screaming.
“The FLOOR! It HURTS! It HURTS!”
Yes, the floor is unforgiving that way.
Story #2: I picked up ReeRee from Grammy’s house after work. It was a nice spring day and both were outside on the deck. With her hands full of dolls, and several steep steps, Grammy shouted to us, “Don’t fall and get a black eye!”
ReeRee shouted back, “I not get a black eye, Grammy. My eyes are BLUE!”